Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration

The School of Public Affairs and Administration at Western Michigan University offers Michigan's only doctoral education program specifically in public administration. This program has been graduating students for nearly three decades.

The doctoral program is designed for those who have experience in a supervisory or administrative position in federal, state or local government or a nonprofit agency and those wishing to teach public administration in a college or university setting.

Note: Ph.D. admission is currently on hold.
The Ph.D. program in public administration is undergoing a major restructuring and therefore the School has decided to hold its admission until the fall of 2024 (next targeted admission for fall 2024 only). We take this extended hold on admission seriously as it may work against your timeline for doctoral studies. We would be happy to answer any further questions.


The mission of the Ph.D. in public administration is to:

  • Give students a deep and extensive knowledge of the history, theory, and future of the field.
  • Encourage broad intellectual inquiry with a scholarly perspective.
  • Prepare students for careers in teaching, research, administration, and consulting.
  • Provide decision makers, researchers, and future professors with a more sophisticated understanding of the governing process.

The curriculum incorporates a diversity of viewpoints, gathered from classical and contemporary readings in the discipline, examination of the contributions of its seminal thinkers, analysis of the institutions and processes of governance, exploration of emerging theories and trends, and an investigation of the challenges of leadership and public management in a democracy. Public administration is multidisciplinary and so during the coursework phase each student will be able to develop substantive and/or methodological knowledge in one or more of the many related disciplines, including sociology, economics, educational leadership, interdisciplinary health sciences, political science, statistics, and communication.

Integral to the program is the development and refinement of the skills to conduct both qualitative and quantitative research, practice in statistical and quantitative analysis, and experience with applied skills of leadership and ethical decision-making.

Students should graduate with the ability to perform independent research on theoretical public administration concerns and substantive issues, to analyze a wider range of alternative policies, and to weigh competing choices in the decision-making process.

A variety of pedagogical methods will be used to challenge the thinking and facilitate the continued professional development of mid-career students.


You are expected to meet with your advisor on a regular basis.


Please contact us with questions concerning the admissions process for the Ph.D. in public administration program. Complete the Information and Application Request Form to receive more information on the program.